Local Tech Group Launches Survey for Workforce Diversity

The Chester County Economic Council’s ITAG initiative is conducting a survey on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

By Leslie Rylke

From Silicon Valley to the IT departments of the smallest companies, it is no secret that the tech workforce often lacks the diversity found in other fields. Women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce but account for less than 24% of technology workers. African American and Hispanic workers are employed in tech at roughly half the rate of other private industries.

One local organization, the Innovative Technology Action Group (ITAG), an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council, is working to address that disparity. Through their Diversity & Inclusion Action Team, ITAG has released a survey for regional workers and employers to express questions, needs, and challenges when it comes to strengthening diversity & inclusion within their own tech teams and IT departments. ITAG hopes to use the survey to raise awareness of the topic and develop resources companies can share to improve their own tech pipeline and workforce.

“Better inclusion and representation in tech aren’t just the right thing to do,” says ITAG Director Patrick Hayakawa— “it’s also good business.  Data shows that companies that are above average in terms of gender and ethnic diversity are far more likely to be above average in terms of revenue and sustained growth.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says tech jobs will continue to grow faster than all other fields, with the potential to hit more than 1 million unfilled jobs by 2021. “The smart companies are laying the groundwork now,” says Hayakawa. “They are asking, how do we reach the widest applicant pool, like people with unconventional educational backgrounds, or interruptions in their work history? How do we get people excited about working and staying here? What blind spots might we have that could keep us from getting there?”

The survey is open to the public. Tech workers, hiring managers, HR teams, and individuals from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds are particularly encouraged to participate. Results will be shared at an upcoming ITAG meeting later in the year.

ITAG has several initiatives dedicated to improving gender parity in STEM fields, such as Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology (GETT), an annual event in which girls in grades 5-10 use hands-on activities to explore various STEM careers; and the Women’s Executive Forum, in which leaders from business and education gather to discuss practical solutions to increase opportunities for women pursuing STEM and business leadership roles.

To take the survey, click here. All responses are anonymous unless otherwise requested by the respondent.

ITAG, an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council, is a 19-year old partnership of companies throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. ITAG’s mission is to promote Information Technology, Communication, and Technological processes to all companies and individuals in Southeastern Pennsylvania to become more effective in an increasingly sophisticated global marketplace.

This employer-led partnership provides numerous benefits for participating organizations, including, but not limited to workforce training, recruiting assistance, technology presentations and information to keep up with new tech trends, sharing best practices and networking. Utilizing more than 300 volunteers, ITAG also offers career exploration opportunities to nearly a thousand local students each year.

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